Hills of Kron

Francis Log 11
Trapped.

This left us trapped in a foul-smelling, bone-littered tomb. Literally. A little poking around discovered that the main shape of the room was a twenty-foot-wide L. The long part – going north-south – about 60 feet, the short part about 40 feet protruding off towards the east off the southern portion of the main leg. Also, in the south-west corner there is a section of destroyed wall and rubble. Looking at the rubble, we see not only worked stones and unworked rocks, but also bone fragments, casket fragments, and other miscellaneous cruft – including the sparkle of coins.

Pertherditeis, who is apparently having a paranoid-day, says “Don’t touch those!” Everyone is pondering this, but we go along for now. Poking around through the south wall leads to a carved-out section that is roughly a thirty foot diameter circle, five feet high, with a variety of floor-to-ceiling columns where the floor is littered with more of the same sort of debris. There’s also a further hole leading off to the southwest – into an area where the ceiling is only three feet high. And yet, we can see a trail of gold coins leading off into the darkness. Hrrm. Really not delighted. Pertherditeis squeals “Don’t touch these either!” as she squeezes down and follows Slade into this narrow constriction. I hang back with the Wizard, who doesn’t seem interested in crawling around in there either.

Shortly, everyone troops back out of the hole. “There’s a whole warren in there! The coins went for a ways, then petered out. It looked like a really good place to get lost, or stuck, or both! Hey… where’d the coins go! See, I told everyone not to touch them, they’re clearly some sort of trap!”

Pete can’t restrain a giggle. “I, uh, picked them up. I marked the route that they were on, but the coins looked fine to me.” Heh. Well, he’ll have to carry them. There’s a short discussion about what we learned about the undead and evil clerics last week, so a large sack is hauled out, and all the bone fragments that can be found are added to it. Likewise the rest of the rubble is shifted about, collecting the wood for a potential pyre. During the search, 800sp, 15gp, seven vials of holy water, another potion of undead control, and an unknown scroll are unearthed.

So… we’re tied in an underground tomb full of eaten skeletons with no way out. Excellent. Pete and I start searching he room more methodically for anything interesting. At the east end of the L there is eventually a ‘click’ from something we brush against, and we rejoice in opening the secret door there. Slade puts the sack of body parts in an out-of-view spot and douses it with a vial of holy water “Just because.”

Anyway, we’re into a ten foot wide corridor meandering east and south with alternating twists. We’re moving quietly, and as we reach a T in the corridor, Slade holds his hand up to motion us to a halt. Carolin says “What?” Everyone glares at her. “What?!?” Slade motions silence, then motions everyone back up the corridor we just traversed. Carolin says “What’s all this then? I could hear running water to the south when we stopped for a second.”

Slade whispers, “Carolin, I could hear some sort of low growling or speech to the north. I was using hand signals to be as quiet as I possibly could. So, please don’t ask ‘What?!?’ every time I motion for a brief stop.” Pertherditeis is giggling quietly. A quick discussion of what to do next follows. Pertherditeis, at first, wants to go to the water to avoid the creatures. Slade explains that then the critters will be behind us, and she changes her mind. A quick discussion makes me the scout to see what I can see. Hrmm, well, best to demonstrate the folly by just doing it. I drop my pack and jog off to see the sights. The north corridor has some irregularities in the east wall, then opens up on a forty-by-forty room. This room has a northern and a western exit, and the argument comes from the western one. They’re noisy, so I pop on over near to that opening. Yep, several large somethings arguing over something or other. They aren’t animals, I think these would be Gnolls. Back to the intrepid heros.

Here’s the problem: they don’t understand my charades. Heh. Pete is nominated scout number two. That’s a much better plan. Pete reports back with what I’d already discovered, but he doesn’t know what sort of monster this could be. I stack coins on the floor “Gno…” and there’s a thirty-second game of twenty-questions while I finish spelling “Gnoll.” Pertherditeis remarks, “Hey, I can understand the Gnollish language, but I’m not particularly quiet.”

Pete unlaces his boots and remarks “You will be in these, come on, change.” Pertherditeis drops her pack, switches her boots for Pete’s, and trots off on the third scouting mission of a pack of gnolls. Slade’s rolling his eyes and volunteering to be the next lone scout – while fingering his sword. Pertherditeis trots on back, grinning.

“The Gnolls are mercenaries hired by somebody to cause trouble. But there’s also a group of something called Bugbears that are also hired to cause trouble, and there’s a lot of bad blood between them. The argument is over whether they should break their contract and go somewhere where they’re more respected or something.” Heh. The evil critters are being dissed by the evil cleric. Pertherditeis changes into her regular footwear with the comment “Hey, those are quiet!” Anyway, we all troop off to the big room.

In the big room, Slade and Carl take positions near the opening to block it off if they need to. Everyone else essentially lines up behind them. Pertherditeis eventually cues to the fact that she needs to go in front of them if she’s going to do the talking in Gnoll. “Um. Hi.” she says after moving into the opening far enough to actually see Gnolls. Unfortunately, they’re talking way too loudly to hear her. Luckily, they’re talking way too loudly to notice her anyway. Take two: “Hey!” the loud voices taper off after a bit. She discusses this all in Gnoll for a bit. She returns, “I hired nine Gnolls for 30 gold, half now, half after we fight the evil cleric! They hate Bugbears, and they’ll be delighted! I had a little trouble figuring out a good pay rate for them, but we have plenty of coins. Who has fifteen gold?”

Pete speaks up “well, we should pay them in silver… of course. He hands over lots of small sacks of silver from the Ghoul area.” Pertherditeis takes these to the Gnolls, who have appearently never seen anything like hundreds of silver in their life. They’re stacking coins to count that we haven’t cheated them… but the counting itself is abysmal. One, two, five… Arrrrgh! Eventually this is all sorted out, and they lead us to the area in which the Bugbears hang out. That’s through the northern exit of the large room we were in, past one northern corridor on the port wall, and into another large room. There is a door centered in the north wall of this large north-south rectangular room. We entered from the west, and the east wall has three more spaced out doors. The Gnolls move to the east wall – as the door swing into this room so as to obscure that portion of the room. We follow suit, with Slade joining the Gnoll archers at the south western corner of the room. The northern lights are extinguished, and the chief Gnoll will open the door.

“Hey you stupid bearheads. We’ve sighted a whole group of fresh meat, and we’re off to loot and pillage! Make sure you tell the boss you were too busy to hear the rally-cry!” he yells through the door – then he runs towards the western exit. Shortly after him come six of the huge goblinoids called Bugbears. At this point, I’m quite happy we’ve set up an ambush. The archers shoot the front rankas Carl and the lead Gnoll single out one of the front Bugbears for attention. The other eight jump the easternmost Bugbears. Pete andI wait for the last Bugbear to get clear of the door, step right behind him, and lay into him. Pete has an excellent attack, and I’m able to finish this one. Heh, we’re the first to manage to bring one down.

Another brief flurry of fighting leave one Gnoll dead, and a pile of Bugbear parts. 72gp and a silver necklace(450 = 4×50 + 1×100). Those are some big morning-stars.

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Francis Log 10
To the Moathouse...with supplies.

In the morning, it is time to gather all of the stuff we ordered yesterday. Carolin is babbling about how she actually has a spell to hurt the bad guys now, Magic Missile, and how one of the other spells was quite odd. A spell to write another spell into a spellbook in very tiny lettering Shrike’s Tiny Typesetter. Well, that won’t be doing damage to the enemy. Maybe their eyesight, hrrmpf. Anyway, we get our horse and pony together and head to the Trader’s. He tells us he sent our stuff ahead to the Church on a cart. Once we get to the Church, we see a bunch of people we know already standing together, and apparently waiting for us. There’s Olga the druid, Blackoak, Canon Bond, Champion Stonefist, the Ostler Ekstein, and Warlock Windspark – and another couple of people.

A grizzled oldster in the middle steps forth, “Greeting adventurers! Thank you for examining the goings-on at the Moathouse! We haven’t had a report from there in some time! Oh, I’m Mayor Harry, this is Mike the Miller, and I hear you know the rest of the Village Council.” We nod respectfully. “We’re delighted you’re doing something about the Moathouse, but I must say that we’re concerned about the report that there’s an Evil Cleric running about. Zombies.” He shakes his head. “Foul, foul creatures. Anyway, the council feels like we could donate a cask of holy water to your defense, and ask if there’s anything else that might be particularly useful? Oh, and a Scroll of Detect Magic along with a Scroll of Magic Missile if that might be helpful? It is? Excellent!” (Warlock Windspark doesn’t look enthusiastic about that last part.) “In any case, we haven’t heard from a couple of other groups of adventurers that went off to check out the Moathouse, and we have a couple of… intrepid souls who might be of assistance also. Yo, Carl and Pete!” Off to one side you see a cart, teamster, a burly fellow in chainmail, and a slight fellow in an enveloping cloak. The burly fellow and the slight fellow approach. “This is Carl Blackoak,” he says pointing at the burly fellow, “and this is cough Slyfinger Pete. They’d be… delighted to help you. Right Pete?”

“Sure Mr. Mayor. Delighted to meet your distinguished selves, the honor is entirely mine.” says the oily Pete fellow. Carl stands there stolidly.

“Well,” says the Mayor, “We also convinced Percy Trader to send along a cart and teamster. So that is Mo the Carter. You mentioned a stash of weaponry, and we’d like that under our control. Mo’s got your crate of flasks, a cask of fresh Holy Water, cask of lamp oil, and a set of door wedges. There’s also a pile of boards to patch the drawbridge up. We also heard that you dealt with a couple of the village’s miscreants as they jumped you on the way back from the Moathouse. Ostler Ekstein thinks that means you probably have a claim chit for a horse in his barn… for which he is owed a couple days for feed and lodging. You could claim the horse if you pay its debts. Canon Bond has something to say about Evil Clerics, Canon?”

The portly priest steps forward as the Mayor steps back a bit. “Well, not the clerics themselves Harry, just the kind of trouble they stir up. There’s a favorite spell among the Evil Clerics, see, called Animate Dead, and nothing good seems to come from its use. All of this sort of critter are collectively called Undead, and there’s a raft of spells that are pointless against them. Sleep, Charm, Suggestion – anything that might require a mind as a target. (Windspark nods)They tend to be somewhat resistant to the effects of cold, and somewhat susceptible to the effects of fires. Daylight is not their friend, and Holy Water is precisely the perfect thing for any of them.” he says with a grin.

“The weakest of clerics can use Animate Dead to call bones from the earth – animated Skeletons. They have all the typical abilities I described, but they’re also tough to fight with cutting weapons. You’re better off with something that is blunt and crushing. They’re slow and dumb, which are the two best things about them. A stronger cleric with fresher bodies might manage to raise Zombies. I hear you’ve already met some – they sound like they were typical of the breed. With well-preserved corpses, I’ve heard of something called Mummies. A little faster – physically and mentally. Then we get into more dangerous types of Undead that I don’t think are made with just the Animate Dead spell. There’s Ghouls, Ghasts, and Wights. All three act smarter. Insane, but smarter. They seem to subsist off cough people-flesh. The Ghouls and Ghasts can paralyze with a scratch, and a Ghast-scratch is substantially fiercer. Wights are able to drain your life energy somehow. The other couple types of Undead that I can think of are the Ghost and the Vampire. All you need to know about those is ‘run quickly to sunlight.’ That’s all I know about this horrid subject. St. Cuthbert would be delighted if you set up a funeral pyre for any corpses or corpse-parts you run across. Nothing can be raised from ashes.”

On that sombre note, we reassemble with our new compatriots and head back towards the inn. Ostler Ekstein is delighted to get rid of the horse – a monster named Firestorm that Slade seems ecstatic about. Carl, Pete, and myself all prefer to walk, so we convince Pertherditeis to ride Slade’s other horse. Slade makes a slow circuit of our original group with the comment: “Best to not mention the rug on my horse to these newbies. Nor anything else you’re particularly attached to.” Pertherditeis takes this to heart, and wanders into the woods before releasing Blue Eyes for a portion of her daily visit. Blue Eyes doesn’t seem to like Mo, but manages to get Carl to scratch her tummy, and seems to think Pete’s a funny guy. Which is, of course, entirely bogus.

WhenI start up my juggling practice, Pete decides to show me up. He hauls three knives out of who-knows-where.I switch to four balls – he switches to four knives!I throw a ball to knock him off-rhythm – he throws a knife back! This insufferable upstart! Swiftly, there’s balls and knives whirling back and forth between us… and everyone else has backed off an additional fifteen feet. Pertherditeis is giggling, and Carolin is clapping! Sheesh! Regardless, we eventually make it to the Moathouse, patch a couple of weak spots on the drawbridge, and all the horses and the cart can get into the courtyard this time. We unload our gear, and cart it to the torture camber we’d found before.I give that other locked door another whirl as Pete tries to butt in and show off again. Hah! I picked the lock this time.

Wild. 50 spears, 10 glaives, 6 guisarmes, 3 battle axes, and 70 cloaks with a huge yellow flaming eye on them. Sheesh. Plenty of provisions, crates of arrows and quarrels. An army’s worth of stuff. We help the teamster load up the cart with polearms and cloaks and leave him to his own devices.

We head on back to the torture chamber, fill up three flasks apiece with oil and another three with holy water. Then it is down into the secret passage in the pillar. We untie the rope we’d left around the pillar, and send Slade on in with a lantern. Slade goes a long flipping way down. Then motions for another. Carl goes with a second lantern, then Pete. I go before Pertherditeis, and Carolin brings up the rear with her glowing orb. That was about thirty feetI judge. When we are all at the bottom, Carolin says, “Um, I heard a click behind me as I was climbing, and the door was locked behind me.” Pete grimaces and eels up the shaft quick as can be. Shortly, he returns.

“The top was closed and locked, I unlocked it, but it won’t open.” he whispers, while looking meaningfully at the fighter-types. Slade lets Carl climb to check if it can be forced open. When Carl returns, he looks rueful.

Pete right, the door gives a slight bit, but then there’s something holding the door closed.”

“Like, uh, rope?” says Carolin a little fearfully. Carl nods somberly. Wunderbar. Well, onwards looks to be the only choice. The air is as rank as we expected from the whiff from above. This little passage leads like ten feet eastish, then thirty feet south. At the south end, it lets out in a small alcove where a body was once laid out in death. We step out of the alcove into a crypt. Many alcoves line all the walls, with a central section about twenty feet across here at the north end. Out of the south we see four sets of glowing red eyes rushing us. Well, at leastI can vent my frustrations on whatever this is. Pete hugs the north wall across to the east wall,I hug the west wall and head south. Slade and Carl step into the center and set down their lanterns. Pertherditeis calls fire to her hand, and Carolin uses her new Magic Missile spell. Shimmering darts slam into the leader of what looks to be Ghouls to me. Leathery, quick-moving, foul-smelling, blood-and-earth smeared slavering fiends. Sounds right.

One gets close enough to attack Slade, and manages to just nick him with one swipe. A second manages a heroic swipe-swipe-bite attack on Carl. Ouch, that looked really painful – and Carl stops moving. Pete (the bastard) gets to position and attacks before me.I try hard not to laugh when he stumbles over a casket fragment hidden on the poorly lit floor and crashes down on his own oil-and-holy water flasks instead of hitting the Ghoul gnawing on Carl. I’m on Slade’s flank, whereI do an open handed attack while holding a holy water flask on a third Ghoul. Not only doI have an excellent attack, but the holy water douses the fiend and sets it alight with holy fire. Excellent.

Carolin decides to help Carl, so she darts his Ghoul twice. Slade misses the one bearing down on him. The fourth goes after Pete on the floor, but Pete manages to writhe out of the way, to his feet, and lodges his knife under that Ghoul’s chin into its crazy little brain. It dies. Again. Slade finally manage a coherent attack and finishes his off, andI send the one latched onto Carl back to the afterlife. Woosh.

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Francis Log 9
Back to Cishathorpe

In the morning, we look around through the parts of the castle that we’d left unblocked, and think some more upon the extra-foul stench coming up out of the pillar. “You know,” says Slade, “We don’t really have enough oil to burn more Zombies – and the stench is different. So they might be something else entirely.”

Pertherditeis says, “Well, then you’re arguing for a trip to town.”

“Yeah.” grumbles Slade.

“Well, we have a lot of junk to get rid of too. Our poor horse and pony will be practically overloaded.” says Carolin. So we decide to head back to town. But before we leave, we shift the rubble back in front of the storeroom we discovered hidden with rubble, and make sure the other two doors aren’t going to be opening. Then we set off for Cishathorpe.

When we fight our way clear of the unused section of road, Slade is hit with a barrage of bright blue sparks while I have to deflect two arrows headed my direction. Carolin is also shot at, but the archer is inept. Now there’s more magic gathering at the source of the earlier bolts – luckily, Blue Eyes was ranging ahead some and lunges at this attacking wizard. He stumbles and creates a sticky mass of thick black strands across Slade and one of the other attackers.

Slade manages to wrench out of the web on our side, and everyone but Blue Eyes and myself attacks the third attacker – the only one on that side of the web.I run around the swath of stickyness, then Blue Eyes and I manage to get the wizard. Pertherditeis and Slade get the unarmored monk-wannabe. He’s yelling something inane like “Fear the Turk! Cower under the fists of fury!” Which is a lot less impressive with a sword through the abdomen. Then, Slade deals with the fellow who was stuck in the webbing. What an atrocious ambush. They clearly thought we were a lot weaker than we are, and knew we had been weakened in the Moathouse. I wonder if the merchants went through Cishathorpe first.

From this completely inept ambush, there’s a suit of spintmail, 40cp, 12sp, 21gp, 11pp, three zircons(50), a token for the stables back in Cishathorpe, a journal and a spellbook. From the journal, we find out that these three used to be called Flaming Fred, The Turk, and Jonus Konig. All were desperate for money when they heard the merchant’s story upon their return last night. Flaming Fred’s spellbook is mighty thin, but Carolin is happy to poke through it. It turns out to contain Belphianor’s Appraisal, Web, Magic Missile, and Shrike’s Tiny Typesetter. She’s never heard of half of the spells.

So we arrive back at Cishathorpe, and trudge our way to the Trader’s shop. He’s willing to buy most of the gear, household goods, and cheap jewelry off of us for a reasonable price. He does give a couple of very brief avaricious looks at us during the transaction, but we’re able to get rid of a lot of the bulk we were porting around. The Trader can get us a small cask of oil, the door wedges, and a new blank book useable as a temporary spellbook. But he laughs at the request of a cask of Holy Water. Carolin announces her intention to spend time in the inn transcribing Flaming Fred’s spells into her new, blank, spellbook. Slade wants to talk to the smith and see if he can get either of the two suits of scalemail into good condition. So Pertherditeis and I go to the potter’s shed, where she explains that we’d like flasks that are actually easy to break. After some discussion, the potter agrees to make a crateful.

Pertherditeis is at loose ends, and wants to learn more about making the ointments we’ve been using. So I drag her around outside of town pointing out (and harvesting) patches of Woundwart and Figwart. Pointing out how much light the spots are getting, the type of ground they prefer, everything one might want to know about that pair of herbs. Then we crash for the night at the inn. We’re rich enough thatI don’t have to share a room with Slade, which is exquisite.

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Francis Log 8
Back past the Ashes

Excellent. Back down the stairs. The portion of the room to the southeast is more of a north-south twenty foot wide corridor, seventy feet long. At the north end, there is a door next to the east wall. Along the entire west wall are four doors, evenly spaced. In the center are three support columns. And twenty feet north of the southeast corner is an opening to another room.

We scout around carefully now that the Zombies are gone. The north door we spike shut for now. Each of the doors to the west open upon empty ten by ten cells. The eastern opening leads to another north-south room, this one twenty by fifty. There’s a couple of support pillars here, and this room really reeks. There are torture instruments caked with dried blood, and two racks. One has a relatively fresh stains, as if someone was ripped off the rack recently.

Pertherditeis is poking around at notices that the drips from that rack follow a curve towards one of the pillars by saying, “Guys, check this out.” I discover a latch on the pillar and get a secret door to open. It smells far fouler inside the pillar – which is saying quite a bit!

Carolin says, “I don’t think we’re ready to meet more Zombies.” and everyone else agrees with her. We spike the door with a cheap sword and tie the (outward-opening) door closed with a section of rope. Good thing I had that, no one else in the whole party had rope!

Now that the whole section is inspected to be monster-free, we poke around looking for any other secret doors, and poke through the various bits of debris for anything useful. In the northernmost cell, a loose stone concealed a peridot(500) a tome and a scroll.

Now, what’s behind that other door? After unblocking it, it opens easily and quietly. But it leads to a twenty by twenty room with debris and filth piled up on both sides of a walkway through the room. A well used walkway. Hmm. Well, we’re set up to go into the next room when suddenly the door on the eastern wall slams open – flinging Slade into the northern wall like a discarded bone. Ouch, that has to hurt. But this is going to suck – there’s an Ogre in the doorway!

There’s space and time enough for me to squeeze into the next room before the Ogre can reach for a new victim. I circle to his flank trying to distract the brute. Pertherditeis is apparently inspired by my efforts, and steps up to the doorway to thwack the Ogre. The Ogre’s response is to punch her hard enough to send her into the western wall. That had to hurt… too.

Carolin manages to cast her newest spell, Mirror Image, which seems to confuse the Ogre, and Slade manages to sit up. Finally. I run around the back of the Ogre and give it another couple of full swings with my staff while it tries to reach any of the screeching Carolins. Slade lurches upright, and brings his sword in a big overhand slash on the Ogre’s outreached arms. Excellent. Pertherditeis manages to moan. The Ogre abandons Carolin as a target and goes for yours truly. Well, he’s welcome to try. I dodge and runs to stay ahead. This is a forty by forty room with four support pillars in it – plenty of space to run rings around and Ogre. Especially if it manages to not see Slade winding up for another tremendous swing. This one finishes the Ogre. There was much rejoicing.

He has clearly been living in this room. Foul bedding, clothing remnants, and a large decrepit chest at the foot of the bed. Marbles, candlesticks, 823cp, 46sp, 3gp. Gah. “Heelp?” goes a tremulous voice from the south. There’s a door there. Opening this hefty, barred door leads to what can only be the Ogre’s larder – three humanoids chained to a wall. Two human merchants offer a reward for freeing them from the Ogre’s clutches, a gnome looks unconscious.

We free the three captives, patch them up, and give them some food and spare gear from the bandits to get back to civilization. The gnome says “My name is Meryll Smokehand, and I’m forever in your debt.” He gives Carolin a ring with his sigil as a sign of his regard. Carolin takes them up and out of the castle, while everyone else patches up a little bit from a ferocious fight.

Some tracks have Pertherditeis fiddling with a section of wall. She’s rewarded by a <click> and an opening section. There’s a tiny hidden closet. That seems silly, so more searching ensues. Click, click. Two of the walls inside the closet are also secret doors. One seems to head downish, and the other heads upwards. The other end of the upwards passage turns out to be the where we fought the bandits on the ground floor. We spike the other door and limp out to camp.

The horses are happy to see us, and we’re happy to wash off the foul stenches and eat warm food. Ointments are applied, and Pertherditeis has a healing spell that helps herself and Slade a little bit. But no one feels up to more exploring today. So we rest from the late afternoon through the night. Carolin declares “That was a scroll of Write, I’m copying it into my spellbook.” Later she remarks, “And that book has pictures and descriptions of types of common potions. It looks like the correct names of the ones we have are Light Healing Potion, Medium Healing Potion, and Treasuresense.”

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Francis Log 7
Down the Stairs

By now, we’ve mostly covered everything we’ve found aboveground. Pertherditeis looks at my map, and points out that we didn’t examine the little tower in the southwest corner, so that’s our first goal. Slade points out that we don’t have all that much in the way of preparations for exploring underground, but he’s basically overruled by Pertherditeis and Carolin. So we’ll make do with my lantern and Carolin’s magic ball of light.

From the outside of the tower, we aren’t able to see very much. Even sticking a board that’s on fire partway into an arrow slit doesn’t illuminate the interior. On around to the door, Slade is going to go first. He opens the door and takes a step in, and we hear a loud “Arrrrrggghhh! Get it off!” Slade’s now wearing the latest fashion accessory, a huge spider on his head. Luckily, the spider didn’t manage to bite Slade somehow. Pertherditeis and I manage to enter the room, and we both also manage solid thwacks with our staff. Slade is yelling something typically insane, like “Light the Lamp! Not the Rat!” probably in reference to the fact that I got a good chunk of his shoulder along with the spider. Oops.

Anyway, the spider misses again and Slade rams his helmeted head into the wall while Pertherditeis and I both manage a second double-hit. Excellent. Spider jelly. Shudder. Careful study of the webs above our head doesn’t turn up any more spiders, and we discover 71cp, 38sp, and an ivory box(50). We wipe our nicks and scrapes carefully after Pertherditeis notes, “I think that was a poisonous spider!”

So, let’s see how we do on a dungeoncrawl. Pertherditeis summons Blue Eyes and he takes point. And stops almost immediately after starting down the set of steps. She’s not only stopped, but she’s blocking Slade’s path! Oh, look at that arch, it is dripping a really nasty looking green fluid. Pertherditeis hops and claps, “Green Slime! I read about Green Slime! Neat!” Er, ok. “Burn it Slade,” says she. Slade splashes oil on the arch and lights it. Slime flambe. It even smells bad.

After the fire dies down, we’re able to continue descending. We arrive in the center of a forty by sixty room near the south wall. There’s rubble piled across the western wall, and the south-eastern corner opens directly on another room or corridor. There’s a stench here that gets worse as we head to the southeast corner. We decide to examine the rubble first. After we clear the rubble, there’s two doors on the west wall. I manage to pick the lock on the one to the north. Slade opens the door carefully, but the room is filled with gear. Thirty shields, armor, polearms, and a whole pile of various sorts of provisions. Sheesh.

I go back to the south door, but fail to pick the lock. Spending more time here working on the lock still doesn’t get the lock open for me. Well, maybe later – or with an axe. Off to explore the smelly area.

As we step around the corner, we figure it out pretty quick when two Zombies step out and attack our rear. Luckily, they’re slow and inept – they miss. Unfortunately, we can’t do much to them either. Slade impales both – with very little effect. He finally grabs Carolin’s staff, which she briefly wrestles with him over before he can mutter “I need something blunt, let me borrow this pretty please.” Two more zombies appear, and Pertherditeis screeches “This isn’t working!” I agree, time to flee screaming. Shooing the others, I draw the Zombies attention for a moment. Carolin leads the retreat, and I lure the Zombies towards me for just a moment before running around them for the staircase. The Zombies don’t climb the stairs into the glorious sunlight.

“Sheesh, that was no good!”, says Pertherditeis. After some discussion, Pertherditeis suggests we try burning them. “But we need to make sure we know how many there are in total first, so we don’t miss any. Ack. That’s me being volunteered to go scout again. She’ll send Blue Eyes with me. We run down into the main room, then off into the room on the south east, and all the way to the south wall in that room. There’s twelve bloody zombies down here! We sprint back around the zombies and up into the sunlight. “Twelve,” I scratch into the dirt.

“We don’t have enough oil to get all twelve, we’ll need to get some other stuff burning too. And that means we probably won’t get to throw it on them.” says Slade. He starts gathering loose wood from the various piles of rubble. Carolin says, “That staircase is long enough to hold all of them in one spot, we could pile oil-splattered wood on the edges all the way up-and-down the staircase. But they won’t come up the staircase into the sunshine.”

Pertherditeis points out, “We can block the windows, then we can unblock them if this doesn’t work very well.” So I get to blocking the all the sources of light. Pertherditeis continues, “I have a spell Produce Flame which will help get this burning quickly. That is good news. So we have a good supply of wood along both sides, the very top of the staircase is half-blocked by a door Slade hacked out of somewhere, and I think we’re set to go. I motion, “Just me, Okay?” and “3…2…1” and take off over the barrier and through the wood. They’re just such slow, stupid Zombies. They won’t spread out to block me, just clomping straight for me. So I gather them all up, and sprint back up the now-dim stairs. Like the mindless automatons they are, they plod up the stairs right behind me. Pertherditeis lites the trail of oil that leads to the most-soaked wood at the bottom of the staircase after I jump the barrier. Slade wedges another door on top of our barrier and we wait.

They all seemed to be in the staircase when the fire blossomed at the foot of the stairs, and there’s a lot of hands waving at the edges of the barrier on this end, so we hope they’re all still trying to go this way. But we have to back off to avoid the stench. Slade stays to hold the barrier while it still needs help. But the fire quickly makes a long-avoided pyre and reduces the undead to ash.

View
Francis Log 6
The West Wing

While we’re resting for a moment, Carolyn starts talking. “After I cast Sleep the first time, I could still feel the magical energy from studying the spell previously. So I just went ahead and tried to cast it a second time. And it worked!” After some discussion, we lean towards her mapcase having that as one of its powers. She has a scroll of Sleep inside her mapcase, and this happened previously too. She doesn’t seem to be able to cast an extra spell of Read Magic or Detect Magic, or any of her other spells – only the one she has a scroll of, Sleep.

The west wing has a corridor down the center with all the doors near the far end. Two on the left, one on the right, and double doors at the end. The first door on the left is quiet. Opening it, we can see what was once a showcase room. Decrepit animal heads and broken cases litter the room. A quick search turns up nothing dangerous, and this room has clearly been looted before. The second room on the left was someone’s living quarters. It has likewise been looted previously. But Slade’s incessant search for loot has him wrenching a silver baton out of the one remaining wall cresset.

The door on the north side of the corridor is next. Again, nothing is heard, and Slade slips in with a minimum of clanking. This is a kitchen, with a fireplace along the north wall, work counters all around the edges, shelving and tables. Slade continues on into the room, and his wandering path takes him near the fireplace. There’s a cask that he disturbs, and a huge bug leaps at his face. Luckily, he’s startled, and jumps back. Unluckily, he backed into a table and goes sprawling. With a better look, it seems like this is a tick of gargantuan proportions. I manage to give the tick a solid whack, while it misses, Slade recovers, and everyone else misses or jostles for position.

Ouch! My swing brought my arms too close to the tick, and it leaped on and bit me! Pertherditeis manages a solid thwack, and Slade runs the tick through. Ouch. Prying the mandibles out isn’t fun, but I get help cleaning. anointing, and bandaging my left arm. Nothing else seems to be of interest here. On to the double doors at the west end. Everyone’s set, no noises are heard, Slade slips in. This room is a barracks, cots – and the remnants of cots – fill a good part of this twenty by forty room. A large part of the ceiling is dropping rubble into the room, and the southwest corner is filled with stone rubble. “Hey lizard, eat lead!” shouts Slade as he runs to the south. A four foot tall lizard rears up and bites Slade as he rushes in. “Yeeeaaaargh!” Pertherditeis and I run in a give a solid whack though.

The lizard bites Slade a second time, he isn’t looking very happy. But he manages to poke the lizard with hit new sword. The lizard starts backing off, but Pertherditeis and I keep pressing it. She misses, but I don’t. And that’s one more nasty critter down. Thank goodness. Slade takes his vengeance on the corpse while we dodge flying critter parts. “Wahoo! Look at this!” says Slade, holding up a small metal shield. “It ate this thing, and it wasn’t dissolved!, I’m keeping it if that’s ok?” No one is leaping for a slimy shield.

Carolin says, “Oh no, that doesn’t look like it goes with my nice pink robe! Besides, you’re the one in front, I think we’re all happiest if you’re well protected. Um, speaking of which, you don’t look so good. I think we’ve finished everything but going down the stairs… and evening is getting here. So let’s drag everything out to camp and heal up!”

There’s one unbroken chest in the room, which holds a scalemail tunic, light crossbow, a pile of quarrels, and 33 cp. We gather up the loot from the audience hall, and trudge back out through the room with the dead giant adder. At camp, we slather on ointments for quick healing and resisting infection. Carolin studies her spells, and we rest.

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View
Francis Log 5
To the Moathouse

Now we’re off to the Moathouse. Slade bought a medium warhorse, I picked up a little more rope. Around midday, the Nese Road gets too overgrown to pass through easily. We thrash through a little bit of it, but when we hit the crest of a ridge, we can see that the road is overgrown for a long darn way. Slade rides back to get a couple of axes. When he returns, we alternate whacking the thick brush and occasional sapling out of the way. It seems pretty clear that this road has been impassable for awhile now.

We decide to make camp in the early afternoon, so we don’t blunder our way into some type of ambush by crashing through the forest the way we’ve been going. Pertherditeis and I scout ahead a little to see how far away we are – not too far before we can see a stone tower through the trees. So we’ve picked a good spot. We work our way farther off the road than normal, and arrange a fence of bracken to dissuade predators and conceal us somewhat.

During the evening, we hear the loud BRAAWWWP noises that Pete mentioned. Different volumes and pitches – no one has any particular idea what that might be. But we don’t see any lights. We set watches and make it through another night unscathed.

As the camp awakens, we decide to leave the horses here. The presence of food, water, and dense underbrush makes it unlikely that they’ll get too far. And we haven’t seen any traces of anything that should be worrisome to a warhorse. Without the horses, we’re able to wiggle through the underbrush a lot more easily – basically cutting holes for Slade’s big head. Er, shoulders. I meant shoulders!

Anyway, we’re moving along a lot less like a herd of oliphants this morning. We reach the edge of the thick brush as the path gets marshy – and heads past the Moathouse. The path continues farther east, while a short stone path leads up to the drawbridge. Well, the remnants of a drawbridge. And the moat has eroded away its south bank, all the way to the path past the fortifications. Both Carolyn and Pertherditeis don’t really want to cross that drawbridge, so we’re going to circle around the south side of the building and look for another entrance. Given the state of the upper levels that we can see, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Suddenly, a huge pink tentacle flies out of the shadows and wraps itself around Slade’s head! I dodge a second tentacle, and a third just plain misses Pertherditeis. Slade fights with the tentacle attached to himself, and I run to see what sort of critter is on the other end. The tentacle leads off the path, and into the pool – - and into the mouth of a humongous frog! While I batter this frog, I see several others attempting to catch their prey. Us. Pertherditeis and Carolyn team up on a second frog, while two slightly smaller frogs try to get a clear shot at someone with those nasty tongues. BRAAAWWWP, says one.

I manage a tremendous kick right in the first frog’s eye, and it is time to move on to another frog. Slade dislodges the lifeless tongue from his head, and hacks off another tongue that had just hit Carolyn. The now-tongueless frog tries to back off, but Pertherditeis manages a ferocious hit with her staff – after casting Shillelagh on it. The next two seem to be slightly smaller, and quickly die under the onslaught of short sword and staves.

I treat the cuts and abrasions, while Slade slices all of the frogs into very small bits. He’s muttering something about “making sure they don’t froget they’re dead”—making me want to whack him. But he does turn up a pretty little amethyst, so the flying frog parts weren’t entirely in vain.

A little farther east, we reach the south-east corner of the building – where a small corner tower has collapsed mostly across the moat. “We can make that,” says Slade. So I’m volunteered—step, step, jump, crunch. Now I’m on the outskirts of the pile of rubble, and I haven’t been eaten. Yet. Everyone joins me, and we edge our way up the pile of rubble. As we near the top, the pile shifts towards the north, and everyone but myself slides down the far side into a lower level. HISSSSSSS. Well, suddenly it feels a lot safer up here on top of the shifting rubble! But, I suppose I’d feel bad if Slade got those kids killed. Banzai!

Now that is a snake! Carolyn’s retreating from it, Slade’s getting up, and Pertherditeis seems to be waiting in a staff en garde position. Well, time to get this ridiculously overgrown snake’s attention, I throw a good-sized rock at a nostril while running around the left flank. The snake strikes – and I jump just at the right time. Excellent. The others attack as I lure. I think both Per and Slade hit. I turn, but miss my attack. The snake tries to bite me again. It misses the bite, but it does crush me against the wall. Ouch.

Slade runs his blade into the snake’s eye, nice hit. The snake whirls and slithers up the rubble, but Per manages to hit it also. The snake begins twitching in the throes of death. That wall still hurt. We rest for a little while and patch up. Slade turns up a nicely jeweled dagger. Gaudy, but it practically has to be worth a pretty penny. Now that the snake is dead, we examine it a little more closely. Pertherdites says “Twelve feet! And look at the fangs and mouth structure, this is a Giant Adder – quite likely poisonous!” We double check to see if any of the nicks and scrapes might have venom in, or on them. This room is twenty by forty or so, with a door on the north wall that opens into a hallway. There’s two sets of doors on both sides.

The rooms to the sides turn out to be fairly dismal, Slade turns up a fine broadsword, which he immediately appropriates and starts swishing around enthusiastically. Overly enthusiastically. As we step out from that room, we hear a roar from farther up the corridor. Nor a bestial roar, but more like a collective cheer. The corridor goes another thirty feet and looks like it opens up into a room. So we approach quietly. Well, I approach quietly, Slade clinks even when moving slowly. Regardless, we get close enough to see a group of people off to one side of the corridor watching the floor intently. Gambling, probably. Carolyn hauls out a pinch of sand and motions both of us to the side. Somnifize she chants, pointing at the group, and four of the gamers keel over. Slade and I step into the room. Thunk, thunk. Yeeouch! We couldn’t see too far to the left of the entry before coming into the room, but there were two archers guarding the main entry to this room two our left, and they hit both Slade and I. A third non-sleeping foe lets out a yell , “Rally to me! Guardhouse!” He seems better equipped than the rest, too. Slade hit his archer, and I hit mine.

Pertherditeis and Carolyn step into view. Pertherditeis swings at, but misses, the fellow Slade was fighting. Carolyn is fumbling for something in her beltpouch. Slade, myself, and both archers (who switched to short swords) miss. Carolyn is spreading sand again, but I can’t quite hear her chant Somnifize. The archers pass out, but the fellow that was yelling doesn’t. No matter, Slade and I both hit him, and he isn’t doing anymore yelling. Footsteps pound up the steps to the southeast, and two more people burst into the room. The first is in much better armor. Pertherditeis hits the other running fellow, and Slade manages to throw his new sword during a swing at this apparent leader. Brilliant. The leader manages to nick Slade, but he opens himself up to my attack. I’m able to hit his legs and topple him to the ground.

Pertherditeis gets stuck by her foe, but even Carolyn leans in and gives that fellow a solid whack with her staff. Good work Carolyn! Slade’s still dodging, but I get a second hit in on this leader. Slade recovers his sword, just in time to parry a vicious thrust. The riposte guts the leader, so I turn to help finish off the fellow harassing Pertherditeis and Carolyn. And then we can worry about these arrows, yeeoch.

This area is clearly where these guys have been camping. A large room with black, polished flagstones, this must have been the audience hall of the keep. There’s two corridors out – one for each wing of the moathouse – one west, one south. There’s a large set of double doors to the southwest, and a small opening in the northwest corner. The eastern wall is partially collapsed, and looks somewhat disturbed in areas. Slade and I both get the joy of removing well-set arrows. But I break out the healing ointments after that. Pertherditeis pokes through the rubble for awhile and finds a leather hide wrapped around a chest. In total, we seem to find around this much stuff: 13pp, 6gp, 9ep, 69sp, 2000cp, 2 citrenes, a gold chain, 2 bolts of fine cloth, a complete crystal wineset, an ivory box, arrows, and the gear of the brigands.

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View
Francis Log 4
Examining The Tapestry

First, that chest. I don’t detect any traps, and the chest opens easily. Carolin has a spell that detects magic somehow. When cast in here, she lists off what she can tell. The chest, pentacle, and tapestry are magic. And inside the chest are some candles, flasks, bracers, and a small stone ball – all magical. We’ve run across one of the potions before – a light healing potion. There’s two other potions that no one recognizes. One is quite similar to a heavier, thicker version of the light healing potion. The flecks look like Woundwart anyway. That’s a thick, oily, peppery potion with large flecks of green in it. Also, there’s a nearly clear potion where one can see coppery and golden sparkles in the light. Carolin finds that the ball is inscribed Lumos, and that the ball lights up when the word is spoken. The bracers are given to me, they seem quite fine. While we’re looking in the chest, Slade’s taken a key and wandered back outside the room. He reports that there’s just a door with a blue forcefield now – everything else is gone. But holding the key out and approaching the forcefield makes it dissipate, and unlocks the door. I’m just not sure what he would have done had he been stuck back there answering a new riddle. ;)

The tapestry looks down on exactly the same setting we can already see. A closed sturdy chest positioned in front of a pentacle set into the polished stonework. Oh, except in the tapestry, the candles on the apexes are lit. Pertherditeis wonders if anything happens if the two are exactly identical. So some time is spent trying to light the candles with our tinderboxes, from the lanterns, and with candles, all to no avail. Carolin brings her glowing ball near one – and it lights! Good work. So now we can light all the candles, and everything is identical. In fact, we can see the wavering of the candles in the tapestry – if we aren’t blocking the view. Pertherditeis tosses a pebble at the tapestry from the side, and it goes into the tapestry… and appears a couple of feet in front of the tapestry before falling to the ground. Some quick experiments show that anything that fits – including Slade – can go through as long as there’s nothing disturbing the image. Open the chest – the image doesn’t match – so nothing happens. Stand “in the view” of the tapestry, nothing passes. Carolin notes that there’s an ample empty space in front of the chest – things that fall through aren’t obstructing the view of the tapestry. So long as they aren’t large, like Slade, or something that rolls or can disturb the candles or chest. And moving the tapestry doesn’t affect its working, so long as it is completely flat before use. Touching the inner surface even accidentally sends you through though. The only thing we discovered that wasn’t sent straight through was the outside of the tapestry itself. Peering closely at the tapestry, we can see “Belphianor” as the creator’s mark.

This is very confusing to Slade and I. Here’s a couple of pointers towards Belphianor, but these certainly didn’t come crashing down from a flying castle. They’ve been here for awhile, and they blend into the hillside with no crater or even ground plausibly disrupted by a crash. Carolin and Pertherditeis are worried about recent local banditry and rumors of the appearance of “Great Evil”, so Slade and I will tag along to help and see if we find anything further about Belphianor out that way. So, after camping for the night, we decide to head to the nearest small village, Cishathorpe.

That evening, we trudge into Cishathorpe. We don’t explore the village, just briefly stopping at a trader’s store before heading on to the main inn. At the trader, we dispose of extra gear, and replenish our consumables. At the inn, we order supper and rooms. There’s a noticeboard from the town council on one wall. “Reward of up to 100GP for information about brigand activity on the Nese Road.” and “Reward of up to 1000GP for information about activities at the Moathouse on the Ikelwe Road.” Interesting. While we’re eating, we overhear someone talking about the Moathouse, and Carolin asks the fellow if he can tell us more.

“Sure, Pete over there (points) went out a couple of days ago. He said there were bobbing lights and horrendous BRAAAWWWP noises. He didn’t get close enough to see anything more.”

So, as the evening dies down, we rest.

View
Francis Log 3
Into the Cave

In the morning, we all explore a small cave. Pertherditeis explained that she’d visited here a couple of days prior to this, and exterminated several rats, and that this is a ruin, not just a natural cave. Once we’re into the cave, and down the stairs, there’s a thirty foot hallway with two doors on both sides and a door at the end. She’d explored the first room off the right. The first room off to the left had six Giant Rats and some electrum. The second on the left had four Giant Rats and six Kobolds, a floor trap I discovered, and some more electrum. The second room on the right had no creatures, but no treasure either. Now for the room at the end of the hall. Here, there was a virtual swarm of Kobolds and Giant Rats. Thanks goodness forCarolin’s Sleep spell.

This leaves us in a very interesting room. A sizable square room, say 25×25. There’s a door in the far wall, off to the right, obscured by heavy wavy blue lights. It looks dangerous.

There’s a figure in the center of the far wall that has three flat spots that hold small bowls of varying sizes and this inscription above it:

My centerweight is cubic, my sides are squares, fill us exactly if you dare to enter my lair.

There’s a second inscription near a wheel-like graphic.

The sky is opposite today, the bottoms make lava. The Spirit is imprisoned between Water and Earth.

There’s a marker on the wheel that is moving… slowly. The wheel looks weird, everyone thinks we should try to figure out the figurine first. Actually, looking at the figure, it seems to vaguely resemble a picture of Archmage Belphianor. Wild. Anyway, I stop Slade from just rushing the blue magic stuff in front of the door as suicidal. Slade argues “Yeah, but this is going to kill brain cells, I just know it.”

Pertherditeis explains what ‘cubic numbers’ are and what ‘square numbers’ are to Carolin. They come to a list of 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 as being squares, and 1, 8, 27, 64 as being cubic. Looking at the choices of sizes of bowl, they figure the center has to hold 8 units, the left and right have to hold 4 and 9 units. None of the bowls are exactly the right size, but by pouring fluid scooped from the pool back and forth, they get 4, 8 & 9 units in bowls. Then place them. Click, Click, Click go the counterweights, and we hear a gurgle back at the pool. The liquid is draining! And in the bottom we can see 4 stones spaced as if they were four points of a pentagram. Red, deep blue, light blue, and a striated brown.

Hmm. Carolin notes that the wheel could be a weird clock, the hand is moving about the speed to make it to the next section at midnight. “So,” she says, “let’s put the light blue rock into this wedge.” For the line ‘the bottoms make lava’ I get the brown and red rocks ready. Pertherditeis notes that spirit’s spot has to be on the right side just above ‘the bottom’, which means that the earth rock has to be right next to that. And then the fire rock would be the other bottom rock. So water goes into the non-spirit spot that’s left. But… nothing happens. Carolin reaches into the empty fifth spot in the pool and comes up with a nearly invisible rock for our last spot! Excellent! The lightning-like blue bolts stop zipping around the door! Slade opens the door onto a bizarre sight. A pentacle set into the floor. A small chest rests between the two nearest legs of the pentacle. And a tapestry that mirrors the room… almost is on the wall near the door. Four keys hang on hooks near the door. Wild. But we’re going to nap before touching anything in here.

# # # # # # # # # # #
# # #     x     # # #
# # #   x x x   # # #
# # #     x     # # #
# # #     =     # # #
# # #     _   ~ # # #
# # # # # #   # # # #
# # # # # # + # # # #
# # # ! ! !     # # #
# # #           # # #
# # #           # # #
# # # = =       # # #
# # # = =       # # #
# # # # # + # # # # #
#       #   #       #
#       +   +       #
#       #   #       #
# # # # #   # # # # #
#       #   #       #
#       +   +       #
#       # < #       #
# # # # # # # # # # #

All told, this ends up being 22 Giant Rats and 14 Kobolds. I show Carolin and Pertherditeis a couple of ointments. The Figwart for reducing the chances of infection, and the Woundwart to help slices and nicks heal more quickly. Watches set, we sleep.

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Francis Log 2
The Sisters Background

While we’re setting up camp, Carolin tells us something of her background. “The Master to whom I was apprenticed gave me a letter that said my – our – parents were missing. So I came to my parent’s house to meet up with Pertherditeis and see what we could do. I ran into a batch of Brigands up the road. And I got this map off of them. I can recognize this hill, and this other hill, and the stream, so I think this mark here is probably a base or something. Anyway, a couple of days ago I made it to where my parents had lived and met up with Pertherditeis. They lived in a stone house, and one section had been burst by the application of a large tree. No parents. Searching, we found supplies, funds, and this mapcase and Pertherditeis’ wolf statuette.”

Carolin holds out the mapcase for display. A hefty steel tube a foot or so in length, and an inch or so in diameter with fine writing of some sort on it. Both ends are capped. Removing the caps, we see that the ends have a squishy gasket and the inner ends of the tube are finely threaded. Carolin says “Only the center piece is magic, and there’s two scrolls and a couple of maps in there already.” I wouldn’t have guessed that. I see parchment in there, but not that much. The construction on the endcaps doesn’t match either. Interesting.

Pertherditeis holds up a two inch high statuette of what looks like a Dire Wolf pup. She incants Apareo Ceruleo Oculo and suddenly there’s a blue swirling vortex in her palm. When it clears, she’s holding a statuette of a patch of smooth stone inside a well-like stone circle… and there’s a wolf growling at me from near her feet! Pertherditeis introduces us all to Blue Eyes, the wolf she carries in her pocket. “When I first picked this up, the statuette was of a grizzled oldster, but Blue Eyes is just so cute!” Watch schedules worked out, we sleep.

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